12You are young, but do not let anyone treat you as if you were not important. Be an example to show the believers how they should live. Show them with your words, with the way you live, with your love, with your faith, and with your pure life. 13Continue to read the Scriptures to the people, strengthen them, and teach them. Do these things until I come. 14Remember to use the gift that you have. That gift was given to you through a prophecy when the group of elders laid their hands on you. 15Continue to do those things. Give your life to doing them. Then everyone can see that your work is progressing. 16Be careful in your life and in your teaching. Continue to live and teach rightly. Then you will save yourself and those people who listen to you. 1 Timothy 4:12-16
It doesn’t matter if I’m old or young (or in between), as a believer, it’s my mission to be an example to the people around me of what it means to follow Jesus.
But what does it mean to be an example of how I should live as a believer?
In his letter, Paul encourages Timothy to be an example with his words, in the way he lives, with love, with faith, and with a pure life, using the gifts that God gave him to equip him for his life mission. To me this means that I need to watch what I say, being sure that my words are edifying, positive, life giving and not like a double-edged sword cutting down the people in my path. I need to be sure that I am living in the best way possible, being a good steward of the things God has put in my life to tend, being honorable, trustworthy, extending grace to the people in my life, whether I know them personally or not. I must obey the greatest commands to love God with all my heart, soul, and strength and to love everyone else around me, from my enemy to my loved ones. I need to walk faithfully in relationship with my Father, trusting Him always. I must strive to live in purity, following in Jesus’ footsteps.
As a parent, it’s even more important to be ever vigilant in my example, because my little sponges will copy my behavior and my choices no matter if they are good or bad. When I inevitably stumble and make mistakes, choosing to humbly repent and asking for forgiveness, to both God and my children, is also very vital.
I also must remember that my children can be an example for me. They are young, preschoolers, with very little life experience, but they are still able to teach me in ways no one else could. I am able to see the world and the people around them through their unadulterated eyes. I can learn about trust, faith, joy, love…and, through, my relationship with them, I am able to better understand God as Father and how He feels about me.
My middle child is so full of compassion. She has never met a person she didn’t love with a pure, unconditional love. She is happy when they are happy and saddened when they are crying. She seems to supernaturally sense when someone needs a hug or an encouraging word. Through the years, my own heart has hardened, calloused by wounds and the scars they’ve produced. But when I watch her interact with others, I am reminded of how much more I could love people, and parts of me are healed. At three and a half years old, she is a role model for me, and how I can act more like Jesus.
Yesappa, Thank You for my children who are able to teach me more about You without even realizing they are doing it. Thank You for other family members, friends, and strangers, who show me how I can be a better person. Thank You for also choosing me to be an example in my relationship with You. Help my words, my actions, my life, be a testimony of Your goodness and glory, one that draws others toward Your heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie
International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.